Not just for Christmas: The never-ending impact of unforgettable corporate gifts

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Megan Goodfield

You know that keeping clients and colleagues feeling happy and appreciated is an essential part of your job. After all, without both parties remaining fully on-side, your business will struggle to thrive. Disengaged customers and disenchanted employees aren’t exactly a surefire recipe for success. 

It’s the reason why Christmas gifting has such an important place within every business’s calendar. Festive gift-giving is the moment at which your business allows itself to be a little less ‘business-like’; to drop its stony-faced professionalism for a moment, and allow a bit of human emotion to peep through. 

Because, at their most effective, thoughtful corporate gifts offer an emotionally impactful way for businesses to acknowledge hard work, loyalty, generosity, camaraderie or success. The right gift says so much. It’s the physical manifestation of your business’s appreciation for the people that keep it ticking over and moving forwards.      

So if corporate gifting is such a powerful tool for elevating how people feel about your business, why is it only ever deployed at Christmas? How would clients and colleagues respond if they were given thoughtful corporate gifts outside of the festive season, as part of a year-round campaign of rewarding, acknowledging and celebrating? 

Keen to get clear answers to these questions – and other questions relating to the impact of gift cards – M&S Corporate Gifts recently commissioned a survey of 1,000 UK residents, drawn from all age groups and backgrounds. Here’s what they told us.
The giftees have spoken

Looking over the responses to our far-reaching survey, two things become abundantly clear. The first is that gifts – and gift cards in particular – have the power to radically elevate people’s perceptions of a business. 

The second observation? A premium corporate gift can have a surprisingly deep emotional impact on its recipient. And this positive response lingers long after the initial buzzy excitement of receiving that gift fades. 

Of the people we spoke to, 71% said that if a company gave them a gift card from a trusted, premium retailer – at any point in the year, not limited to Christmas – it would positively impact their opinion of that company. 

As such, the best gift cards offer incredible ROI. The company’s clients are suitably impressed, while the company’s employees consider themselves suitably valued. And the company feels the warm glow of associating itself with a well-regarded retailer – the oft-discussed ‘halo effect’ in action.   

It’s worth noting, however, that not all gift cards are created equal when it comes to elevating perceptions of a business. For example: 64.1% of people told us that if a company gave a gift card from a brand with strong sustainability values and ethical working practices, it would positively impact their opinion of the company. Source a gift card from a company with a less-than-pristine ethical or environmental reputation, and it may not create the impression you’re after.   

Further to that, 70% of people said they’d actively prefer to be given a gift card for a retailer with a good reputation for sustainability and ethical working practices. And the younger the respondent, the more pronounced this preference was: 83.3% of 18–24-year-olds and 83.6% of 25–34-year-olds told us they’d prefer to receive a gift card from a brand with a good reputation for sustainability, compared to 58.2% of people aged 65-plus. 

Okay, so giving out gift cards from a well-regarded and ethically sound retailer can make a business look thoughtful, quality-conscious and keen to impress. But how do those gift cards make recipients feel?  

Let’s look, firstly, at employees. In our survey, 77.7% of respondents said they’d feel ‘truly valued’ or ‘thoughtfully rewarded’ if they received an M&S Gift Card from their employer – again, at any point in the year, not just at Christmas. And an overwhelming majority of respondents – 91.3% – said they’d be more likely to remember receiving a gift card versus a monetary benefit.

Employees with lasting memories of feeling ‘truly valued’ or ‘thoughtfully rewarded’? That’s a recipe for heightened morale and motivation. 

Looking at clients and colleagues together, 80.7% of the people we surveyed said that receiving an M&S Gift Card would make them feel more positively about the company that gifted them. Why? Because an M&S Gift Card represents a ‘treat’ – the promise of a fun shopping experience and some indulgent little luxuries. 

If somebody gives you a thoughtful gift, it elicits a strong emotional response. And, as scientific research shows, because that response is so emotionally affecting, it stays with you – for years. Think of an unexpected treat you received as a child. The fact that you can still picture it now is down to the emotional impact it had on you, and the resulting positive imprint it left on your psyche. 

The best gift cards do the same for your clients and colleagues.       

If not just Christmas, then when?

Thoughtful corporate gifts can be tied to any number of events, from the personal to the global. Gift cards offer a fun, memorable way to mark clients’ or colleagues’ birthdays, promotions, retirements or successes. Internally, they can be used to reward or incentivise your teams; externally, to thank clients for their continued support, or to mark the completion of a partnered project.     

Widening the scope, gift cards can be used to mark religious celebrations, major sporting events – even the coronation of a new king. And gift cards can be distributed with specific end-purchases in mind, with your imagination the only limit.

For example: M&S Gift Cards could be distributed amongst your team in the run-up to Mother’s Day, along with a request that they purchase an indulgent treat for the mum (or ‘workplace mum’) of their choice. It may just be a bit of frivolous fun – but it’ll be remembered, for all the right reasons.   

The more unexpected the premium corporate gift, the bigger the impact it will have – on clients, on colleagues and on your company. So why let Christmas have all the fun?  

Read our full report – shaped by a survey of 1,000 UK consumers – on the true impact of corporate gifting.